Doing the Right Thing: Intentional Self Regulation and the Promotion of Character Development
The "Doing the Right Thing" project is designed to answer the
question: "Why do adolescents who believe themselves to be of high
character, virtue, or morality, behave in ways that fall short of
their standards?" The purpose of the project is to examine the role
that intentional self regulation skills and character exemplars play
in the virtuous behaviors of adolescents. Exemplars may demonstrate
to others, and particularly to youth in the process of developing
their moral identities, how one can regulate or control one’s
behaviors in manners reflecting character virtues.
This project is a four-wave, cohort-sequential, mixed methods study.
In Spring 2015, we collected pilot survey data from about 200 young
people in the Boston area, and we also collected data from one of
their parents or guardians. We also asked the youth to nominate a
staff member at their school who knows them well, and we asked those
individuals to complete surveys with questions about the young
person. These pilot participants will be contacted three more times
over the next two years. In Fall 2015, we will recruit a larger
sample (about 600 more young people) and survey them twice more over
the two year period. Finally, we will also interview a subsample of
young people to learn about their perspectives regarding the roles
of self regulation skills and character exemplars in their lives.
The key goal of the study is to provide new research findings about
the development of virtues and moral behavior in adolescence. As
such, this project will provide the evidence base for interventions
that may substantially narrow the gap between espoused positive
character and enacted virtuous behavior.